PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22911

Doorstop Interview - Melbourne

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/10/2000

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 22911

Subjects: Peter Reith

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

… the Minister’s announcement today. Prime Minister, what’s your response?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well he came to see me this morning and said he’d decided that irrespective of what the Solicitor General might say, he wanted in the interests of the Government to pay the amount. And he’s behaved in a commendable fashion in doing that and I think people appreciate that he put aside any personal considerations. He doesn’t know what is in the Solicitor General’s opinion, I don’t either. I’ll still be interested to see what the Solicitor General has to say. He may conclude that there was a civil liability, he may conclude there wasn’t. But irrespective of that Mr Reith has decided in the interests of the Government to bring the matter to finality by making a payment.

JOURNALIST:

What does that announcement mean for his future on the front bench as far as you’re concerned?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Mr Reith retains my full confidence.

JOURNALIST:

Do you regard this as an admission of liability?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I don’t. I regard this as the action of a man who’s put the interests of the Government ahead of his own.

JOURNALIST:

Did he receive advice from you this morning about what he should do?

PRIME MINISTER:

He reached his own decision. He reached his own decision and he came to see me and he said that he was going to do it.

JOURNALIST:

Do you believe he did the right thing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

$50,000 is a lot of money. You don’t think that means he’s accepting blame?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well blame doesn’t go according to amount. Well it doesn’t. That’s not logical. Blame does not follow amount. It follows the circumstances. And you’ve heard his case. He was not informed of the details. He’s gone over all of that. I think people are familiar with the detail but he’s taken a decision and he’s put the interests of the Government ahead of his own. So that is commendable.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think that public pressure also prompt him to take this action? Should it have got to this point…?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh look, I’m not going to conduct a seminar on the last few days. He’s made a decision, his own decision. He’s announced it. Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 22911